In our study today from Ephesians 5:26-27 we address the issue of who is speaking, the difference between interpretation and application, and that these verses are not talking about water baptism or that the church is the Bride of Christ.
Verse 26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, According to the previous verses, the he here is a reference to Christ. This brings a bit of a different interpretation to everything that he has said since verse 22. As we will see in verse 32, the entire context is Christ's relationship to his church with marriage as an example.
The point is that Christ was willing to lay down his life so that the church could be sanctified and cleansed. Of course, application can certainly be made regarding the husbands responsibility toward his wife also. It is his spiritual duty as the leader of his home to see to the spiritual well being of his bride.
How this to be done? - with the washing of water by the word. In order words, it must be done as we are saturated with the Word of God. There is no other way.
I want to make two points regarding the latter part of this verse: with the washing of water by the word. 1. It has nothing to do with water baptism. 2. These verses cannot be used to make a doctrine for the Body of Christ being also the Bride of Christ. The words Bride of Christ are nowhere to be found in the Bible. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that the New Jerusalem which will be inhabited by Israel is the bride.
God’s Marriage to Israel
Let's take a closer look since I know that many are shocked by this bit of information.
a. God made a covenant and a promise to Israel (Genesis 22:16-18, Exodus 19:5-6; 16:8, 15, 32, 60).
b. God married himself to Israel with the covenants (Jeremiah 2:2-5, 31:31-32).
c. Israel was unfaithful to the covenant and God divorced (Jeremiah 3:8-14, 20-22).
d. A promise of restoration after the divorce (Hosea 1:9; 2:2, 5-8; 2:11-12, 18-23).
e. No rest until Jerusalem is established over all the earth (Isaiah 62:4-5).
f. God is faithful to keep his covenant with Israel (Isaiah 54:4-8, 12-14).
g. The re-marriage is complete in the kingdom come: the bride is the city (Revelation 21:2; 9-21).
h. Jesus came preaching the coming kingdom: be ready, prepare (Matthew 9:15; 25:1-10).
Verse 27: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. As Christ desires to present a church without blemish to the Father, so to the man should seek the same for his wife.
Trust me, a man loving his wife in this way will not have a problem with her submitting to his leadership. I have found that when I wife begins to pull away from her husband's leadership, it is because she is doubting his love for her.